Mission Slideshow

Monday, November 28, 2011

Week #33 - "I want peace. But if you wanna fight, bring it. I am here!"


Okay, so my title this week is neither MASH related nor Disney but it has a funny story. Today we played RISK, the board game, with some other Elders and it was AWESOME. While playing the game, Elder Moura, a Brazilian, said the title to this email in the funniest English accent. We all died when he said it! I thought it was worthy of title stature in my memory.

So first, I know that Mom is dying to know about transfers. YES! I will finally be leaving my first and only area of the mission, Mauazinho. I am moving to the east zone of the city where I will be a district leader again. The sad part is I do not know who my companion is yet, whether he is an American, or the exact location I will be living. SO, we will see. Surprises are always fun!! Also mother, I have yet to receive my other packages, but I should be getting them tomorrow at transfers.

This week we worked!!!!!! We walked a TON!! There is an area, Bairro ( pronounced Buy-ho), that is very far from our house, PARQUE MAUA. My companion had yet to go there so Tuesday we dedicated almost the entire day to finding new people in that area. Then Wednesday, Friday, and parts of Saturday we gave all our time to teaching new people there. It was very uplifting and challenging. I think the worst feeling on a mission is when you find someone who denies the truth. When you talk to someone who is so closed as to not being willing to ask even God himself what is right. However, we met tons of new people. It was great!

We also received a box of popsicles which my companion promptly devoured. (photos will come) My companion warned me of something this week. Apparently my sleep talking has flared up (I've done this all my life) and I talk almost every night now-a-days. He said it is really funny because I sometimes talk about really dumb stuff. That is right. He said I do not just mutter or mumble. I go off for a good 30 seconds or so AND I talk in English and Portuguese in my dreams!!!!!!!!!! That is right! Dreams in Portuguese, which I do not remember. I was really excited to hear this. The language is pretty easy now and I actually find English harder than Portuguese most days. Especially when I pray. Almost impossible when I pray. It is just really cool.

I am reading a ton. 12 pages of the Book of Mormon in Portuguese. 1 or 2 chapters of Luke in Portuguese. 1 chapter of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and New Testament in English. I also read 1 talk from the Conference Ensign you sent me mom and at night I read the book "Jesus the Christ".

I have a challenge for all who accept it but especially for my family. This Christmas season read "Jesus the Christ". It is a fantastic book or analysis of the life of Christ as we know it from the Scriptures. I feel so good and close to my Savior with every page I read of this book. Roman, Kati, Hanna, and yes you Mom and Dad. You all can take time to conquer this fantastic read over the next month. I also would like to personally invite Uncle Ryan, Reed, and my good friend Reed Perkins ( if you do not have this book, talk to my mom, she will point you to it).

So the other night I was lying in my bed and I thought to myself "I should clean up the socks on the side of my bed". As I reached to grabbed a sock, I discovered that my sock was not alone. It had found a new friend-- a GIGANTIC SPIDER. Legs and all I would guess 4 or 5 inches in diameter!!!! Needless to say I freaked out and the spider scurried behind my dresser. Well after a quick plan was made I used a flashlight to discover the spiders locale and my companion smashed the dresser up against the wall! That spider did not stand a chance. We swept out his dead remains and I took a crazy picture so you can see the monster. I will not lie, I was pretty freaked. I a had few thoughts at the time I would like to share with you:

"If Rachel Stenberg were here she would probably scream and run."
"I wish I had some way to just burn this house down and rebuild it. I hate bugs."
"At least we have no cockroaches, for now."
"I hope I get transferred."
"Well, I can check that off the list."
"I slept with that thing next to me for a week!"

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful I do not have to deal with these things in Washington. NO, we did not celebrate thanksgiving here and actually, I forgot about it until Saturday.

SO the biggest event of my week however was................ A WEDDING. There is a family here, Renato and Josiele, that I met my second week here. I have been working with them for a long time and this week they were to be married and baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!! However, Renato gave in to smoking the day of the interview for baptism and asked if he could wait another week, so Josiele also asked to wait as well. SO this week we had their wedding!!!! It was fantastic!! I took a million pictures and I do not think I can ever find a cooler family than them here in Amazonas. They are really why I stayed in Mauazinho for so long, so that I could help them. They are both so strong in their testimonies of the gospel and I am just so full of joy for them. It is just so bad that I will not see their baptism because I am leaving tomorrow for my new area. However if the Lord be willing, I will be able to see them enter into the temple to be sealed together for all time and eternity in the new Manaus temple. (photos are coming).

The weirdest thing in the world is walking through the forest and hearing off in the distant someone blasting away "Judas", by Lady Gaga. It just feels wrong.

I hope you all have great week.
Eu amo voçês,
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, November 21, 2011

Week #32 -"Remember- BEEEEE yourself!"


To start off this wonderful email, I would like to openly invite all to join the race!!! I have already received my first Christmas card. Thank you Aunt Jodi and Uncle Jerry Cochran!!! I love the card!!! To everyone else, the race is on!! Who has the guts to mail Christmas to the Amazon??!!! We have a severe lack of pine trees, mistletoe, eggnog, and snow. Time to fix this problem with Christmas card cheer!!!!!!

Elder Asa Laws
Brazil Manaus Mission
Rua Loris Cordovil
1066 Alvorada 1
Manaus, AM

On to the week!!!!! We had a zone conference this week and it was absolutely fantastic!!! I just love it when I am able to learn more and more about how to help other people. Seriously. My mission president is called of God to help ME dot his work. I am so grateful for the guidance he gives ME so that I can help others. The conference was very spiritual and I really remembered my purpose. I was also able to conduct the music for the conference and I performed that duet of "Nearer My God to Thee". It was beautiful and Sister Klein came up to me afterwards and asked me to help her do the Christmas show this year for the missionaries!!! So now I am in charge of organizing the show with a choir and special musical numbers. Elder Sheppard, a missionary here who was also in my BYU ward and church will be playing the piano for me too. I am very excited. I will start putting it all together next week after transfers happen. Yep, transfers are here again and there is a good chance I will be leaving Mauazinho. We will see.

After the conference we had a division with the Zone leaders again. I went with Elder Dorneles again to his area and we had a great time, as usual. I bought a PIZZA there!!!! I real pizza!!! AND WE FEASTED LIKE KINGS!!!!!!! ( yes I waited all week to type that. I hope you feel my energy and love of that pizza!) I have pictures and will try to send them. It was a glorious pizza and I do not expect to find another pizza quite like that until after my mission!!!

On the division, I finally decided to address a problem that came up on Friday last week. I had an in-grown toenail and it HURT. So Thursday morning I called Sister Klein (Mission Pres wife). She said she knew a member of the Church that worked especially with this problem and she would call her and then call me back. After the call, Elder Dorneles and I grabbed some water bottles and went next door to a member house to grab water from her filter she had (we STILL do not have water at our place). When she arrived she was on the phone and told us " Yeah, go ahead and get some water, I am on the phone with Sister Klein and some missionary needs help with his toes." I told her I was that missionary and that I needed the help!! As luck would have it that member, Irmã Ray also was going to give us lunch that day. It was perfect!! I really felt blessed that day. Especially because it rained all day and we could not go out and walk (my toe really hurt even after she worked on it)! All was well.

We were able to baptize 3 people this week! Alice, Ivanildo, and Cassia. Alice and Ivanildo were baptized by my companion on Saturday, the 19th, and I was way excited, but also kid of bummed. I have had over 7 months on the mission and I had yet to personally baptize someone. I had yet to step foot in the baptismal font. Well, the next day, Sunday Cassia came to church and decided she wanted to be baptized that very day. She was interviewed this week but backed out of baptism on Friday. Well on Sunday she returned and asked ME to perform the ordinance!!! I was soooooo happy. I will never forget trying to memorize her full name- Rita de Cassia Galdino da Silva Gonçalves!!!! It was a wonderful Sunday.

We also cleaned our house all nice and spiffy!!! I love a clean house and a clean desk. Also....... I received your first package mother!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for the conference ensign and also for the scriptures. But what I am truly in love with is.................... the CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!!!! I absolutely love all of it. I am so grateful for Christmas. It easily is the best time of the year; my very favorite! I hear that the mission Christmas is very special. I'm look forward to it.

As a final closing story for this week; a girl stopped me in the street yesterday and asked " Can you marry?" I responded that I will after my mission but for two years we cannot date or marry. She asked if I would marry her and I replied I could not because I would leave Brazil after my mission. She responded " Please! I will wait for you and you can take me with you to the States!!!! You are beautiful and I love you!" I told her I could not wait for her and that I could not take her with me. It was very funny and my companion was laughing the whole time!!!!

I hope you all have a fantastic week!!
Eu amo voçês!!!
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, November 14, 2011

Week #31

"Holy Toledo! Either that bird hit a land mine, or you just shot down a Kamikaze pigeon!"


What another fantastic week in the life of me. I must begin this letter with a shout out to the awesomeness of the mission. Best 2 years is an understatement. Time flies when your having fun is truly realized out here too.

This week was filled with more work!!! And lots of it! We have 5 baptisms marked this week and 13 people came to church with us!!! It was marvelous to see the fruits of our labors this week. Hopefully, we will see that more this Saturday when our investigators are baptized.

It is interesting how I have been here for so long and yet it seems so short. Every day a new member of the ward here asks how long I have here and then marvels at how fast it has flown by. Five months in Mauazinho (suburb of Manaus). Five fantastic months. Everyone says it does not feel like five. I think it is because I just have become part of the framework here. Everyone knows me. I am not a new elder or a leaving elder. I am the missionary will has just been here long enough to be part of the family. It is fantastic and horrifying. Why? Because I cannot stay forever . My family membership is just another allusion, a lot like the time thing. I will leave (eventually), and someone new will come and take care of the flock for a while. I am pray that the next missionary after me realizes how much I love this area and how much I have put into it. I would hate to see it all fall down. It would crush me.

Really, I am lacking of news for you guys this week. Sorry. My companion is learning english very fast and I am so glad for it. He really wants to study at BYU after the mission. Also, I will be conducting the music at the missionary conference this week on wednesday. We prepared an octet version of Sweet Hour of Prayer and I arranged a duet version of Nearer My God to Thee that I will sing with a sister missionary.

Life is really good. The church is true. I urge anyone who will read this to red the Book of Mormon. It is not a manual or book a pastor wrote. It is the word of God; scripture that we can apply in our lives to better ourselves and receive not joy, but a fullness of joy.

eu amo voçês.
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week #30 - "Geronimo! Geronimo! Geronimo! Pocahontas!"


So I dare you all to tell me which Disney movie I have quoted this week!

Work Work Work!!! That is really what a mission comes down to. You have to be willing to work and not just any work. The Lords work, His way. I have really been thinking about this and I really never knew how to work before the mission ( Yes Dad, You were right.) I knew how to be busy and to get stuff done fast and effectively. But there is another side to work. Extended, long term, hard work. Something you have to do for more than a few hours for a few days. That is right. Work means a ton of hours, for months, or years. We have been working more than I ever thought I would ever need to and man, I am TIRED.

This week was a pretty interesting week for me. I spent a lot of time thinking this week and really trying to understand who I really am. How am I to operate out here to most effective. I had a leadership training this past week and the president talked a lot about planning and doing. Not just trying and looking. He talked a lot about the spirit and how this work is really not lead by us, or him but by the spirit. It is lead by the Lord himself through direct revelation through the Holy Ghost to each and every missionary who is willing and worthy to listen. Well, I have been thinking about these elements and how I can apply them most. THEN, it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. BIG bricks. Something I had already known finally clicked. You just have to work and be obedient. Not work most of the time and follow the easiest rules. 100% commitment from morning break till that final phone call before bed time. Heck, for me I feel like I even have to work just to take a shower now!! I just really want to work my tail off. I want to be effective. I want to know exactly what I am supposed to, or else I am suffering lack of energy, water, and a surplus of Sun and rain for no reason at all. I am going to just love it all and try my hardest to be a tool for the spirit to touch these people. Already, I have seen the blessing of this.
We are still teaching Heliton and Maria. I believe I mentioned them in my last letter or so. They are a very humble couple with nothing and they are really searching for the truth. Also, they are pastors. Well, they came to church again and they asked me if I could help them out. He is unemployed and they have almost no food now. The gas for the stove ran out and the rainy season is coming. I was heartbroken and I said I would talk to the bishop. Well, our wonderful bishop gathered the leaders of the ward and they came with us on Sunday to Helitons house had a sort of interveiw/chat to determine what the ward could do for them. This was harsh meeting, a very harsh meeting. What it really came down to in the questions the bishop had was whether or not they were planning on accepting the messages we had and joining the church. He stated that whether they joined or not made no difference on what the ward would provide but he wanted to know because church headquarters can provide a lot more than the ward can. Basically, the couple said no. They said they "enjoyed the lessons and they loved learning more but they found church to be 'dry.'" Well, soon the ward leadership left and left me and my companion to pick up the pieces of what once was, what we thought, a growing testimony in this family. We taught "The Word of Wisdom", a health code the church follows that was given to the prophet Joseph Smith by revelation. It clearly states that coffee, tea (green and black), alcohol, smoking, and illegal drugs are to be avoided. It also states that mankind is to have a balanced diet with many fruits and vegetables. However, Heliton did not quite agree. He agreed that all of these things were true, except that coffee was not a vice for him so he does not need to give it up. I was pretty much heartbroken throughout the entire time and near the end I simply sat staring off into the jungle as the sun set and my companion tried to explain. Elder Carmo closed the lesson and asked for a prayer. Maria offered to give it but first she wanted to pray for me. She had noticed my distress (everyone noticed) and asked if she could "place her hands upon me to prayer for my name." I conceded and allowed her to do so. She grabbed me and called upon God to bless me to feel better. During this I was praying in my mind to know what to do. A thought came to mind " Grab her hands." I was stunned and did not really get it at first but I did so. As she finished I grabbed her hands, placed them together, and simply began to say exactly why I was so despaired at the moment. I hold this moment very sacred to me and I do not wish to share exactly what happened but here is what I will say; I told them that I felt they should be willing to accept an answer from God if he were to tell them to change their course. I told them I was so sad and wanted to cry because they were prepared by God to receive His gospel, and they were not willing to see with open hearts. I pleaded that they would leave behind their pride of what they had come to know to accept what God was willing to give them. It was an incredibly spiritual moment that I will never forget. They were definitely touched. We the closed with a prayer which Heliton gave and we left on the night trail back to the road to take us home.

However, we first had to pass by the house of Rodrigo. He is 18 and is married to a 16 year old girl in the ward, because he got her pregnant. We got to the house and where we would normally find a shy, awkward, inattentive Rodrigo ther was a new Rodrigo. I asked him what he thought we wanted to talk about. He said church, the Book of Mormon, and baptism. I said " maybe, but what do you want to HEAR about?" He said " Families." So we read the first verse of the Book of Mormon. I asked him questions about what he understood about "goodly parents" and what he could do to be the same way for his family. I think it really spoke to him. He realized he has to be better than any normal 18 year old kid. He had to grow up and be a goodly parent. My companion shared another verse from the Book of Mormon and Rodrigo accepted to pray about a date to be baptized. It was wonderful and I was exhausted.

I wish to add a part here about how amazing good juice is here. Really, I will miss fresh Lime or Mango or Açai. So the food here is always the same but the fruits and juice, they are sublime. I love it. Sorry mom, I dropped another kilo and am down to 64 (about 140 lbs). Oops. Even the ward noticed I am getting smallish. Do not worry!!! I have made a resolve to stuff my face with mores beans and rice!!! It will be done!!!!!!

It is beautiful here. I will send new photos this next week as I forgot my camera. All is well inches from the sun, here in Manaus.

Eu amo voçês
Elder Asa Laws